Pete Ellard from Scouting For Girls talks 80s cover versions and remembering how to play live post-lockdown
David Roy quizzes Scouting For Girls drummer Pete Ellard on the making of their new album of 1980s cover versions, Easy Cover, their upcoming Irish dates and his other 80s favourites...
SCOUTING For Girls are back with a brand new album which finds them breaking the boredom of lockdown by covering a smorgasbord of 1980s classics.
Inspired by the English indiepop trio's take on the Phil Collins smash Easy Lover, the puntastically titled Easy Cover also features their interpretations of other decade-defining pop fare: Girls Just Want To Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper, The Waterboys' Whole of The Moon, Tears For Fears' Everybody Wants To Rule The World, It's The End of The World As We Know It (and I feel fine) by REM, Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance With Somebody (who loves me) and The Look of Love by ABC, plus 1990 hit single Put The Message In The Box by World Party.
However, it's not just an album of covers: bandleader Roy Stride (who also has songwriting credits with One Direction, Five Seconds of Summer and The Vamps) was also inspired to write a trio of original 1980s-esque material in the form of I Wish It Was 1989, Neon Lights and the album closer Xmas In The 80s.
Best known for their 2007 top 10 debut single She's So Lovely and 2010 chart topper This Ain't A Love Song, to date the London trio – who also feature bassist Greg Churchouse and drummer Pete Ellard – have sold over two million albums and been nominated for four Brit Awards and an Ivor Novello, in addition to selling out venues like Wembley Arena, The Royal Albert Hall and The London Palladium.
They'll be back on the road this autumn in support of Easy Cover, including a slew of Irish dates. We quizzed drummer Pete about making the album and looking forward to the upcoming tour – their first for almost two years.
:: Congratulations on Easy Cover: was it as much fun to make as you thought it was going to be, or did you find there was extra pressure to do 'justice' to such beloved material?
Yeah it was great fun! We've only ever done our own originals, so to do something completely out of our comfort zone was really interesting. We're just trying to have fun and take the songs out on the road to give people the night out they deserve after 2020.
:: How tricky was it to pick the tracks to cover for the record? Did you all agree on which ones to tackle and were there any you tried out which didn't make the final cut?
There were almost raised voices over the exclusion of The Never Ending Story by Limahl – but we discussed and compromised with Girls Just Want To Have Fun.
:: Did any of you try out era-appropriate fancy dress while recording to help capture the right vibes, and might this be an option for the upcoming tour?
I went full new romantic for the entire time we were recording. I wouldn't come out of character, even if I wasn't needed on that day. So it might happen on tour.
:: Which song was the hardest to get 'right'?
To be honest, the hard work had been done for us. It was just a case of tweaking them to to make them our own. But mainly to make them easier to play live.
:: Have you had any feedback from the original artists yet?
I believe Martin Fry from ABC said "very good!" Short and sweet. Which was nice, as the only feedback we thought we'd get from the artists would be "you'll be hearing from our lawyers".
:: Which 80s bands/acts would you like to see covering Scouting For Girls, and which of your songs would you like them to try?
Two words: 'Kajagoogoo' and 'Heartbeat'.
:: The new album features three new original tracks – was that important for the band in terms of keeping up creativity and giving something extra to fans?
When you take on some of the biggest songs ever written, we thought we had to put some of our own material in there for SFG fans. And it was fun trying to fit them into an album with these amazing songs. Some of us have such amazing memories of the decade – not me though, I'm only 29 [he may be spoofing here, readers].
:: Have you been working on much other new material during lockdown or has it been hard to write new songs during such a stressful time ?
Since doing this we have started with ideas on new material. And now restrictions are easing, we can get together and and work on those ideas more practically and in person.
:: When was the last proper live gig you played? Are you looking forward to getting back out there and do you think the first date of the upcoming tour is going to be emotional?
We did a few Zoom gigs, which was OK, and worked with what you could do at the time. Then we did a few socially distanced gigs which were really interesting and different. But the last 'normal' gig was about two years ago. So I don't think the first gig back is going to be emotional – more an exercise in remembering how to play!
:: Are you looking forward to playing in Ireland again? Are there any Irish roots in the band and do you have any special memories of shows in Belfast, Dublin or elsewhere here?
It's always great when we play in Ireland, everyone is always up for a laugh and a drink. Which is probably why the memories are hazy. Greg's mum is Irish, I believe. He always mentions it as he wants an Irish passport.
:: Finally, please choose your favourite...
80s film? Ghostbusters.
80s food? Viennetta.
80s fashion trend? Shell suits: Classy, smart and there was always that element of danger, as they were so combustible.
:: Easy Cover is out now. Scouting For Girls play Monroes in Galway on November 25, Cyprus Avenue, Cork on November 26, The Limelight in Belfast on November 27 and The Button Factory, Dublin on November 28. Tickets on sale now via Ticketmaster.ie